Historically, July is the month that Todd and I take a little time away with our kids. This year, of course, between the ever-changing recommendations, closings, and travel restrictions, we have had little success coming up with options to travel safely and within our budget. Out of frustration, we recently decided to look to our kids for some direction on what was most important to them in a vacation-like experience so, we sat them down and asked one simple question. “What has been your favorite family vacation ever?”

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but their replies surprised me. Here is a sampling:

  • My favorite day in the mountains was when we wrote our own version of “Climb Every Mountain” that ended with “Till you find cake and ice cream!”
  • My favorite hotel was the one where the pool was right next to the ice cream machine.
  • My favorite vacation meal was that time when we ate ice cream for breakfast.
  • My favorite part of the cruise was when Uncle Jeff took us exploring every night and we always ended up getting ice cream.

Ice cream was definitely a recurring theme in their responses. Singing came up quite a bit too. Do you know what did not get mentioned even once? Absolutely any aspect of any vacation that I had actually planned. No one brought up my perfectly timed itinerary for Yellowstone, the long sought-after hotel with the perfect view, or the painstaking research to find a shore excursion that included swimming with dolphins.

It turns out that for all my vacation planning and research, what has prevailed in the memories of my children over the years has not been tied to where we were going or what we were doing, but rather on those that were with them on the adventure. Regardless of our destination, the one constant in two decades worth of family vacations has been the people that joined us on the journey and the opportunity to invest in those relationships (often, it would seem, involving ice cream).

While their responses were of little help to me in trying to plan this summer’s vacation, they did remind me of a verse that the Lord has been nudging me with recently.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail.”

I miss being able to plan vacations, fall ministry opportunities, and even my next trip to the grocery store! But Proverbs 19:21 reminds me of an important and perspective-shifting truth: my plans don’t change the outcome anyway. That reality convicts me, but it also comforts me.

As a congregational family, we are one week into a month-long focus on prayer. We have committed to begin each day praying for some aspect of our life together. Pastor Tom shares these prayer thoughts each morning through email and on Facebook. I hope you are joining us! This project has led me back to one of my favorite books on prayer by John DeVries. In his book “Why Pray?” DeVries likens prayer to a grandson sitting on his grandfather’s lap as they drive a tractor through the fields. The grandson wraps his hands confidently over his grandfather’s as they both grasp the wheel. The grandson believes he is steering the tractor, but ultimately, it is the grandfather’s capable hands that will safely navigate the tractor and complete the task at hand. DeVries concludes that in prayer, “We, like little children, climb into God’s lap in prayer, feel His arms of love around us, and experience the security of having our hands on His while He guides the steering wheel.”

In prayer, the Lord invites me to share my plans, my needs, and my desires with him, but I do so from a position of trust knowing that in the end, my plans won’t change the outcome. Ultimately, the Lord is the one driving the tractor and he will answer my prayers in a time and manner that is in keeping with his plans and purposes which are always for my good and his glory.

As a recovering plan-aholic, I find this reality to be incredibly freeing! It means that I can boldly share my plans and dreams with God, trusting that he hears and answer me according to HIS plans. Much as each vacation destination has become a unique spot to make family-time memories, each answered prayer (even those answered with “nos” or “not yets”) is an opportunity for me to experience the purposes and plans of God at work through his Spirit. Each one brings me a bit more clarity into what He is up to, into where he is going, and to how he calls and equips me to join him. In other words, “the Lord’s purposes will prevail.”

I have no idea what our vacation time will look like this year, but I know who will be there and that memories will be made. I also don’t know how God will answer each of our prayers over the rest of our 31 day emphasis, but I know that his purposes will prevail, and I’m grateful. What about you? How can I join you in prayer this month?